The counsel on behalf of the Sevayats of Maa Sarala Thakurani temple, Jagatsinghpur, Orissa had appealed before the court to provide financial support to the Sevaks of the temple as they are facing difficulties in managing their livelihood as the temples are closed since lockdown due to the pandemic situation. The counsel further prayed before the court to allow for the reopening of the temples by following the social distancing norms.
The petition stated that the income of the Sevayats was completely dependent upon the donations and offerings made by the devotees to the Temple Trust Fund. The sevayats are being entrusted with the Seva Puja of the goddess. The petitioners further argued that as the darshan and offerings to the goddess and access to the temple by the general public have been completely shut down and no alternative arrangements have been provided for giving financial assistance to the Sevayats, it is so difficult for the Sevayats to maintain their livelihood with financial stability as they don’t have any other things to do for earning an income for them and their families. The bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Dr. B. R. Sarangi of Orissa High Court was hearing the plea and directed the State government as well as the Endowment Commissioner to look after the grievances of the petitioners and take necessary measure in order to provide sustainable financial aid to the Sevayats keeping in view of the current pandemic situation. The court further ordered the authorities to make proper arrangements to reopen the temples in a graded manner by following all Covid norms of social distancing. The court further directed the Government and its subordinates to act upon the order within a period of eight weeks from the date of the order issued.